Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nightmare on Ex Street

Hubs and I joke all the time about what life will be like when the little guy turns 18 and we get divorced.  We even do it in front of people sometimes ~ forgetting that others really are divorced and trying to raise kids in that environment.  Those that know us well understand that we are passionate with one another and divorce is simply not now, nor ever will be, a way out of our marriage.  Hubs says he has more creative ways of getting rid of me (note to readers - if I show up missing, have them dig up the field behind my house!)

All kidding aside, we have "been there, done that" and wouldn't wish that on anyone.  Unfortunately I was married very young and subsequently divorced very young, which caused the much bigger nightmare of having to coparent with someone I didn't even want to speak to (and still don't... nah, I don't hold grudges or anything).  And a nightmare it was.  The kicker was that it's fairly clear now (hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20) that the ex was never even interested in being a father.

It is an extremely rare couple that can be married, have kids, get divorced and coparent.  Stating the obvious ~ if you can't work through your differences when you are married, how in the world will you compromise enough to coparent AFTER divorce?  I am very fortunate that my son is old enough that I will never have to see or speak to his bio dad again.  Bio dad did his own permanent damage to their relationship and my son learned the unfortunate lesson that not all people are good people, even those you may share DNA.  Thank god he's had Hubs since he was 3 to know true unconditional love ~ even better when it's someone you DON'T share DNA!

Looking around, I see a ton of divorced couples raising kids.  A VERY few of them have it right.  I'd say 1 out of 10 that I know.  I'm pretty shocked when I see it.  Perfect example:  my little guy has a friend whose parents are divorced.  He plays a sport with their son.  Every practice, I see his mom and dad sitting next to each other talking, laughing, smiling.  Cheering on their son.  They have consistently been doing this for the past two seasons.  It wasn't until half way through this season that I learned the two of them were not married to each other.  In fact, I learned the dad is remarried (and maybe has steps?)  What?!  How can that be?!  Where is everyone else?  How can they get along so well?

The obvious answer... they do it for their kids.  They care enough about them to show their kids how to respect each other.  They show a unilateral support system for their kids.  They don't care whose day it is, don't act angry the other one is there.  Quite frankly ~ it isn't about THEM.  It is ALL about their children and all of the rest of their own lives are unimportant compared to their first job of raising loved, cared for, well adjusted kids.  I admire them.  Their boys will totally understand when they are grown that their parents made the ultimate sacrifice for them... they supported one another through the parenting experience putting all of their own wishes aside.

For the vast majority of the rest of my fellow divorcee`s, it isn't working.  Whether remarried or not, they are fighting.  Fighting over whose weekend it is.  Fighting over who had the last holiday.  Fighting over who pays for what.  Fighting over past wounds, future spouses, kid's alliances and loyalties, new spouses, steps, halfs.  Involving everyone they come in contact with in the middle of their conflicts ~ the teachers, the old friends, the new relationships.  In a single word = nightmare.

What comes out of that?  Kids that are more "flexible, resilient, go with the flow".  That's what they will say.  I know, because that is exactly what I used to say.  Nope.  Try another description:  confused, distrusting, vulnerable.  I don't doubt marriages have MILLIONS of reasons to end, but I implore those considering divorce with kids to CHOOSE WISELY.  Parents will always say they will sacrifice for their kids, but if they really mean that they would fight tooth and nail to push everything aside and put the kids first.

And for my friends battling their exes that are already divorced?  One day, this too will end.  Eventually you will no longer have to go through all the crap.  Oh sure, you may have to be around them at your adult kid's life events.  Or maybe not ~ you could get lucky like me and never have to see them.  Either way, I pray you have the strength to push through and stay focused on the main task at hand.

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